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The Student Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC) system research

This research was conducted by Alex Mockridge.


General Points

    Basic premise: A group of elected/volunteer student representatives from a department meet regularly to discuss student issues with each other and a staff member (Academic Convenor). The issues raised on the committee are passed on to staff meetings and circulated to the student population.

    • Gives students a forum for discussing teaching, learning and student support with staff.
    • Can raise issues that go as high as the University senate.

    Student led, but generally there will be at least one member of staff present at meetings (Academic Convenor).

    Student secretary and student chair.

    Chair and/or secretary sit in on departmental staff meetings.

    Aim to disseminate knowledge of their discussions and actions taken among the student population that they represent and to present an annual summary of their findings and actions taken.

    “The SSLC should ALWAYS be consulted of any major changes to course structures or content.”

    • Primarily concerned with matters relating to the respective courses of each department.

    There are a number of SSLC coordinators who oversee the system and can bring common issues raised in annual reports to a higher level.

    http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/sunion/sslc/handbook/sslcs/

    Issues discussed

    • Research study space
    • Personal tutor system
    • Module feedback
    • Teaching
    • Curriculum development
    • Equality impact assessment
    • Computing and e-resources
    • Careers and skills development issues
    • Hidden course costs
    • Assessment and feedback
    • Library services
    • National Student Survey results

    (source: training video)

    Recent achievements

    • Extension of library opening times
    • Pedestrian crossings
    • Substantial improvements in IT, including an increase in e-learning, e-submission, podcasts and wireless internet provision
    • Earlier publication of exam timetables
    • Quicker feedback from departments on assignments
    • Setting up mentoring/’buddy’ schemes
    • Increased departmental support for Erasmus and year abroad systems
    • The alignment of joint honours students' reading weeks

    Being a representative

    “To gauge the views of students on your course and present those views effectively at SSLC meetings”

    http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/sunion/sslc/handbook/representstudents/

    • The SSLC system as a direct link from student views to policy action.

    SSLCs relay information back to students through the SSLC webpages and noticeboards.

    Representatives often invited to take part in academic reviews.

    Being an Academic Convenor

    “(The Academic Convenor) ensures that SSLC concerns and requests are considered at staff meetings, and that a student representative is invited to attend staff meetings to discuss SSLC items.”

    • Student concerns are taken on to staff meetings.

    Relationship with the SU

    “The SSLC system is at the centre of the Students’ Union’s work. Feedback from the SSLC system enables the Union to identify problems within Faculties that might otherwise go unnoticed.”

    http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/sunion/sslc/handbook/academicconvenor/

    • The student’s union is involved through the education officer and other union staff’s involvement on a co-ordination and training level. The SSLC system raises academic issues that may not have surfaced otherwise, this is especially true because of the appointment of faculty representatives, who can look at common issues from departmental SSLCs in the faculty.

    Connection with Warwick Advantage

    "Through your role as a SSLC member, you will be undertaking you will be developing (sic) a rich set of skills which will provide you with significant raw material to draw on when applying for graduate jobs or further study.

    For example, you will be using effective communication skills, such as persuading and influencing others, diffusing conflict and presenting effectively."

    "Given you will be investing considerable time in your SSLC role, why not also use your experiences to apply for the Warwick Advantage Award ?"

    http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/sunion/sslc/handbook/gain/

    • The SSLC system claims to develop skills in representatives, such as are useful for employment and further study. Hence it encourages SSLC representatives to use their SSLC experience in applying for the Warwick Advantage Award.

    My interpretation with respect to graduate capabilities

    The most obvious capability that the SSLC system relates to is community engagement. Here we see a select student community interacting with the wider student community and the staff community. It is jointly run by the Student's Union and the University itself and can have a real impact on policy decisions and on improving conditions for students.

    There is also some connection perhaps with Academic Literacies, with respect to the skills an individual develops by being a student representative on an SSLC.

    The general remit of an SSLC is quite broad, so you can see some links to other capabilities, for example, mentioned under items discussed is "Research study space" and mentioned under recent achievements is "The alignment of joint honours students' reading weeks", so the SSLCs can touch on issues related to research and interdisciplinary study.

    Predominantly though, I think the SSLC system is part of Community Engagement, on an academic and local level. It reminded me strongly of the end of the Ramsden report, in which he called for co-operation between staff and students in curriculum building, if I remember correctly.